Red Cross faces Covid-related job cuts in Geneva

The headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva. Martin Ruetschi

The Swiss-run International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is planning to cut dozens of posts owing to financial pressures linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Swiss public radio, RTS.

This content was published on September 16, 2020 - 17:21
RTS/SRF/sb

The international organisation is reportedly struggling to meet its annual budget estimated at CHF2.2 billion ($2.4 billion), while the Covid-19 pandemic has increased the need for humanitarian aid, RTS said on Monday.

Meanwhile, traditional donors have faced budgetary pressures caused by the virus.

The ICRC is expected to announce a cost-cutting plan in the coming days, including the elimination of posts, particularly at its Geneva headquarters and among expatriate staff, RTS said. This could affect around 100 posts and lead to several dozen redundancies, it reported. The ICRC has 1,000 employees in Geneva, and 18,000 worldwide.

“People are worried and are waiting for information to find out whether they will be personally affected,” said Rose-Marie Mota, president of the ICRC staff association, in a statement.

The ICRC confirmed to RTS that it was preparing cost-saving measures.

“We are facing difficult but necessary decisions. We do not underestimate the concerns of our staff and will endeavour to minimise job losses. Every effort will be made to support the colleagues concerned,” said an ICRC spokesperson.

“Only by taking such measures can we continue to assist and protect the victims of armed conflict. The ICRC has had to deal with many global crises since its creation some 160 years ago. We remain confident that we will also overcome this crisis despite the uncertainty, while remaining true to our values and principles.”

UN financial problems

Other international organisations are also struggling financially amid the pandemic. The UN Office in Geneva says it is facing an “extremely difficult financial situation”.

“An accumulation of non-payment of assessments by some member states, and late payments by others, has led to an acute shortage of liquidity which has forced the UN to place restrictions on the level and timing of funding being released throughout the organisation, as well as the implementation of a recruitment freeze,” it said.

German-speaking Swiss public radio, SRF, said on Wednesday that funding problems had led to a freeze on jobs at the UN in Geneva. Jobs that became vacant were not being replaced and temporary contracts were being terminated, SRF said.

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